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Republicans gain in Missouri Senate races

Chris Koster led a Republican surge into some longtime Democratic territories in the area's Missouri state Senate races Tuesday night.

The Cass County prosecutor's win over Larry Snider in the 31st District race was one of three Republican victories in races for five Kansas City area Senate seats that had belonged to Democrats. Republicans also claimed victory with Luann Ridgeway in the Northland's 17th District and Bill Stouffer in the 21st District in west-central Missouri. Democrat Victor Callahan won in the 11th District of Jackson County. And Democrat Yvonne Wilson, who was unopposed, will claim Kansas City's 9th District.

Going into the night, Republicans statewide held a 20-14 majority in the Senate.

31st District

With a massive campaign effort, Koster ended more than a half-century of Democratic rule in this western Missouri Senate district.

The 40-year-old prosecutor's advantage of more than 4-to-1 in fund raising proved insurmountable to Snider, 51, an optometrist and former Harrisonville alderman. Koster was leading with 47,192 votes to 26,666 for Snider with 81 percent of the precincts reporting. Libertarian candidate Len Ludlam, 39, of Warrensburg had 1,032 votes.

Since 1977, Democratic state Sen. Harold Caskey has held the seat that represents Cass, Bates, Johnson and Vernon counties. Caskey is stepping down because of term limits.

A Republican consultant had called the 31st District race the GOP's most-sought Senate seat, seeing opportunity in Koster, who achieved name recognition in 10 years as prosecutor. His most notable case involved convicted serial killer John E. Robinson Sr.

Koster noted that Republicans made gains in other state Senate races, but he pledged to work with both parties.

"I ran the prosecutor's office in a cooperative spirit, and that's the spirit I intend to take to the Senate," he said. "I promise to work hard for the entire district."

Kansas City Star

"There is a better contest than the battle between Democrats and Republicans. It is the contest between those who reach for progress and those who resist progress. The contest between those who roll up their sleeves and those who sit on their hands. Now that is a better fight."

Chris Koster,
Opening of Cass County Justice Center,
August 16, 2003

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